That three patient narratives should prove so effective a lesson is a tribute to Sekeres as both storyteller and physician.

WHEN BLOOD BREAKS DOWN

LESSONS FROM LEUKEMIA

Three patient stories illuminate the “malignant golem” of leukemia.

“People are both terrified and fascinated by leukemia in all its forms,” writes Sekeres, the director of the Leukemia Program at the celebrated Cleveland Clinic. “It is a monster…that grows out of control and invades the organs within our own bodies. It is metastatic at its genesis.” The events described are real, but the accounts are composites drawn from the author’s patients. Joan is a 48-year-old surgical nurse; David, a 68-year-old retired factory worker; Sarah, a 36-year-old pregnant woman. Each has a different type of leukemia, but their symptoms all reflect the uncontrolled growth of cells in bone marrow, which contains the cells that give rise to the red blood cells that carry oxygen, the white blood cells that are part of our immune system, and the platelets that aid in blood clotting. When the white cell progenitors become cancerous, they proliferate rapidly, crowding out red blood cells and platelets. However, the white cells do not mature, remaining functionless. Consequently, leukemia patients become anemic from lacking red blood cells, risk internal bleeding from loss of platelets, and suffer from a weakened immune system, making them prone to infection. Standard chemo treatment to kill the cancerous cells comes with side effects such as hair loss, skin rashes, nausea, and vomiting. What makes this narrative so compelling is the author’s ability to bring readers with him on his rounds as he meets each patient and family member, discusses treatment options, and follows them through weeks of treatment, reviewing lab results and bone marrow biopsies, and, when necessary, discussing next steps such as bone marrow transplants. These plot points, in addition to an epilogue, allow Sekeres to review leukemia research, including immunotherapy and the potential for more personalized therapies targeting specific genetic abnormalities. Nevertheless, leukemias remain among the most complex and difficult-to-resolve cancers, with no obvious causes and often brutalizing treatments.

That three patient narratives should prove so effective a lesson is a tribute to Sekeres as both storyteller and physician.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-262-04372-4

Page Count: 328

Publisher: MIT Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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